On Friday, March 17th, sixteen disabled rights activists from Chicago ADAPT held an action at US Representative Peter Roskam’s district office in West Chicago. The action protested the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Rep. Roskam has made it clear he will vote in favor of the American Healthcare Act (ACHA) and we wanted to make it clear to him what the implementation of the ACHA would do to the Medicaid services that allow people with disabilities to live in the community.
After a 45 minute ride, the caravan of three vans arrived at Rep. Roskam’s office. We marched from the parking lot to the office, which was located on the 3rd floor of an office building. No security presence blocked our entrance to the building or our access to the elevators, so we went directly to his office.
When we arrived at Rep. Roskam’s office, the sixteen ADAPTers all crowded into the waiting area. There was nowhere to move and the two men behind an open window looked not too happy about our presence. It was obvious from the signs in support of the ACA, urging Rep. Roskam to vote against the AHCA that were left scattered throughout the office before our arrival, that many other protesters had been there. Other protesters gathered out in the hall even as we occupied the office.
We told our stories one by one of how the repeal of the ACA would hurt us. How it would take away important services from Medicaid that allow people with disabilities the freedom to live in the community instead of a nursing home.
Mike Ervin, a member of Chicago ADAPT explained, “Medicaid provides health care services and long-term services and supports that helps maintain the health, function, independence, and well-being that allows me to live in my own home. Block grants or per capita caps will cut federal funding for what is already an underfunded program and force states to cut services and eligibility that put the health and wellbeing of people with disabilities at significant risk.”
Mayra Puma Alvarado, another member of Chicago ADAPT stated, “Having a personal assistant is big difference rather than living in a nursing or a group home. Some people with disabilities have been cut off from their services like myself. I am afraid that my benefits will be cut if the ACA is repealed and Medicaid is packaged in block grants for states.”
As we told our stories and gave information on how repealing the ACA would hurt us, the expressions on the men’s face seemed to change from one of anger and defiance to one of understanding, even telling us stories of how Medicaid programs helped their relatives. The staff did not write down anything we said, something we asked them to do several times, but they did take our flyer and promised to relay our stories onto Rep. Roskam.
We tried to get a meeting scheduled with Rep. Roskam before March 23rd. The staff insisted that we must schedule the meeting by filling out an online form, which we have. We are still waiting for a response from Rep. Roskam’s office.